Cannes Lions

MONTY'S CHRISTMAS

MPC, London / JOHN LEWIS / 2015

Awards:

1 Gold Cannes Lions

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Description

John Lewis' festive campaign for 2014 tells the tale of a boy who can't wait for Christmas so he can give his penguin friend, Monty, the companion he has longed for.

Monty the CG penguin is the star of the campaign, which follows the heart-warming story of the boy named Sam and his imaginary friend.

Execution

The team spent months lovingly crafting Monty, then integrating him into the real-life environment; casting the distinctive Adelie penguin for their overtly expressive mannerisms.

The main challenge was to create a fully CG penguin who would behave authentically within the natural world and deliver a performance of real emotion to enhance storytelling. One element to achieve this and add greater realism involved the creation of an intricate feather system, where individual feathers were crafted from scratch.

The 3D team initially built a digital model and once his skeleton and muscle system were in place, a number of tests were carried out, determining his movement style and adding distinctive character quirks. The main challenge was conveying Monty’s emotions, without giving him human characteristics. This was not only conveyed in the face, it was in the way the whole character moved so there was huge focus on Monty’s physical performance.

The interaction between Sam and Monty was vital therefore seamlessly compositing Monty into the shot footage was the biggest challenge for the 2D team. In addition, the team extended sets, added subtle effects including frosty breath and snow plus created a number of matte painted environments, for example, the sledging scene was shot in mid-summer in three separate locations.

John Lewis Christmas ads are one of the most anticipated and most remembered campaigns in the British advertising calendar so the stakes were high to create a CG character the viewers would relate to and ultimately engage with throughout the film For example, most animated creatures portray emotions by eliciting behaviour we recognize from real life, so the flapping of the wings when meeting his new friend for the first time is taken from when real penguins are reunited after months apart during breeding season and Subtle eye and beak movements also help convey what Monty is feeling.

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